Charlie Nicholas predicts Man City v Real Madrid

Charlie Nicholas looks ahead to Manchester City's clash with Real Madrid in the Champions League round of 16

The Sport Review staff
By The Sport Review staff
Pep Guardiola
Pep Guardiola (Photo: The Sport Review)

Charlie Nicholas is backing Manchester City to knock Real Madrid out of the Champions League on their way to securing a place in the quarter-finals.

The Citizens are preparing for the second leg of their round of 16 showdown against the La Liga side after Pep Guardiola’s men claimed an impressive 2-1 win at the Bernabeu in the first leg back in February.

Goals from Gabriel Jesus and Kevin De Bruyne in the second half cancelled out Isco’s opener at the Bernabeu as the Citizens edged ahead in the tie before the season was put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Manchester City are now preparing to take on Real Madrid in the return leg of their last-16 clash as they look to try and secure their place in the quarter-finals of Europe’s elite club competition.

The Citizens missed out on the Premier League trophy this season as Liverpool FC beat them to the title, and they will be looking to add the Champions League to their League Cup triumph this term.

And former Arsenal star Nicholas is tipping the Citizens to edge a thrilling game on Friday night when they take on Real Madrid in the return leg of their round of 16 clash.

Writing in his column for Sky Sports, Nicholas said: “The Champions League is back with a couple of matches on both Friday and Saturday, but this is the best of them.

“When the full-time whistle blew in Madrid, City could have been further in front, by three or four goals. So Real still have a chance and that is the sad part, as I would like to see City get through.

“Real have recaptured La Liga, but when I looked at what Pep Guardiola was doing when he was chopping and changing his City team, he was doing it too often for me. He is trying to get minutes into their legs, but his team for the FA Cup semi-final – when Arsenal beat them – did not play as well as City can play.

“If you are taking a risk like this for the Champions League, you make it a big risk. For the last 10 days or so, Pep will have been working on shape, especially with Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and then Bernardo Silva or Riyad Mahrez. Does he utilise Mahrez to tease and torment Marcelo as he will not like it? But Mahrez will not like defending against Marcelo, so there will be lots to think about.

“This tie is far from over and Madrid can comeback and hurt you big time as we have seen before. Pep knows how to get Real on the wrong foot and I think he will prove that again.

“He played a false nine in Madrid and there is a possibility that this could happen again, with De Bruyne playing in that position. Gabriel Jesus has scored a few, but he is easier to mark. Sterling can threaten in behind Sergio Ramos to expose him too, so I am hopeful for City, but I do see both teams scoring goals.

“For that reason, I am looking at a five-goal thriller. This is the build-up to a real exciting Champions League campaign. Madrid will go for it and City can – and will – pick them off.”

Manchester City ended up in second place in the Premier League table this season and 18 points behind champions Liverpool FC.

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